La Bella Vita (the good life)

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17 days since crossing into Italy - Total 1900 km
17 days since crossing into Italy – Total 1900 km
Wendy & Deb
Wendy & Deb

We scrambled down from the Alps and arrived in Venice just in time for lunch. So nice to see friendly faces on the far side of the world.

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fancy meeting you here

The 4 of us had a wonderful sunny afternoon taking in the sights of Piazza San Marco and around the Rialto bridge but late in the afternoon the heavens opened up and we got drenched. Fortunately, the storm didn’t last long and when we emerged for dinner Venice was cooler but cleaner.

From the terrace of Saint Mark's Basilica looking toward the Grand canal
From the terrace of Saint Mark’s Basilica looking toward the Grand canal

The following day we were on our own again and the dismal rain caught up with us so we spent the next 2 days doing chores. When the sun finally re-emerged it was time to head back into Venice and finish our exploration.

Now that's what I call  accompniments
Now that’s what I call accompaniments
the Doges Palace
the Doges Palace
a clever statement by a local artist
a clever statement by a local artist
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The Grand canal
MSC Magnifica
MSC Magnifica

I know there are a few friends out there that enjoy cruising so we thought of you when  the above monster arrived.

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Venetian homies

We took hundreds of pictures and it was so hard to pick just a few.

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What is Venice if not hundreds of picturesque bridges?

Next stop was Chioggia, a quieter & smaller version of Venice about an hours drive south.

Chioggia
Chioggia – Deb winning over the locals

Originally we were going to continue down the lesser travelled east coast before returning via the busy west.  However Deb figured correctly that this would put us in all the iconic spots like Rome, Naples, Florence etc. in July which is something to be avoided at all costs. So we diverted west arriving in Bologna for lunch with the fresh, homemade Tagliatelle al Ragu that the city is famous for not disappointing.

Bologne
Bologna – lunch break in the Piazza

Sometimes we arrive at what we think is going to be ‘just a stopover in a car park’ only to be surprised by some amazing vistas.

Our campsite tonight
Castelnovo Ne Monti, Italy

For those that don’t know ‘Cinque Terre’ is a World Heritage site that translates into ‘5 towns’. What makes them so special is their location on the rugged mediterranean coastline that has kept them isolated and free of modern development. So while there is no traffic to speak of there are thousands of tourists.

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Vernazza – Cinque Terre

One of the great things to do here is hike the coastal tracks between the villages.  The only one open at this time was the most popular ‘Monterosso to Vernazza’

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Vernazza – Cinque Terre

Of course once the hike is finished you must be rewarded with a Prosecco or Campari & Soda in one of the many bars strategically placed to take advantage of the beautiful coastline.

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Riomaggiore – Cinque Terre
We actually hiked 20 km that day
We actually hiked 20 km that day

The other ‘must do’ is enjoy fresh seafood at any of the numerous harbourside or cliff mounted ristorantes.

Cinque Terre
Seafood Vernazza style

When travelling for long periods it is hard to keep up the constant pace of the ‘big’ sights (like Venice & Cinque Terre) and we have found interspersing these with visits to lesser known treasures like Petrasanta to be most rewarding.

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Pietrasanta – Tuscany

While a lot quieter it was no less fascinating.  The main Piazza is littered with dozens of molds of famous sculptures that were cast here.

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Pietrasanta – Tuscany
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Pietrasanta – Tuscany

Another advantage to leaving the main route is finding jewels like this chuch below which not only had free entry but was devoid of tourists allowing for a more moody image.

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Duomo di San Martino – Pietrasanta, Tuscany

While not exactly ‘unknown’, Lucca was a very enjoyable 3 day stay.  The artworks and architecture on display here are what the Renaissance was all about. And if that’s not enough, being the birthplace of Puccini, we attended a nightly opera recital that is held in a deconsecrated church.

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Chiesa di San Michele in Foro – Lucca

We are currently enjoying 30 degree plus weather so we have taken refuge in a beachside caravan park about 30 minutes from Pisa which we intend to visit tomorrow and then onto Florence.

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22 Replies to “La Bella Vita (the good life)

  1. Hey you guys, we are totally green with envy.
    What a wonderful experience.
    Marion and I did Europe for 22 weeks back in the 70’s (last century).
    We did it on $5 a day tenting it, as per the book.
    But didn’t see half of what you’re doing now.
    Luv, Bob and Marion.

  2. Outstanding pictures as usual – especially Cinque Terre. My G-d – I have to get there one day before I die. I will keep it on my bucket list.

    1. Cinque Terre is definitely a bucket list item. We thoroughly enjoyed it there. You would be blown away by the architecture we are seeing. We keep saying Rappo would love it here!!

  3. It’s so great seeing you have such a good time, but even more so as often it brings back great memories of our trips – Cinque Terre and Piazza San Marco, plus Tuscan – at Piazza San Marco I hope you got time in the evening to listen to some music – when we were there 3 years ago we were there for 3 nights – great place, great music, friendly people. Yes, we are people that would like to cruise in that region.

  4. Magnificent photos again! What a brilliant time you are having really experiencing the true Europe. XXX

  5. Bellisima, we are enjoying your wonderful photos, BUT there will be a geography test when you get home to see if you actually learnt something, other than where all the fabulous food outlets are. enjoy, you deserve it.

  6. Another amazing episode in the life of our most amazing friends as they traverse the parts of Europe so hiden from the usual tourists routes. They photgraphy they share, the stories they tell, and the atmosphere they bring to those of us who can simply read this blog , delight and entice me to quit everything and come and join them in their wonderful Norman .. There IS room for me ?? Isnt there?.

    1. Your suite IS ready, all you need to tell us is your arrival date at Rome airport so we can send our complimentary pickup limousine to meet you.

    2. We are lucky to have the freedom of getting off the beaten track. So nice to get away from the tourist crowds. Your beds are easy and waiting. Rome? Paris?

  7. Great to see your wonderful adventures in such beautiful photos. Best wishes to you both from both of us.

  8. You both look just fantastic & so, so happy. Loving your tales & thanks for the cruise ship pic 🙂

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